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Brief Description Missiles flash above the sea and boomers lurk below, in this comprehensive game of modern naval warfare. The rules cover everything from aircraft carrier task forces to submarine vs. submarine combat, using a simple rules system with an exhaustive data base. Sinking your enemy is only half the battle -- you'll have to find him first. Set includes four introductory and six advanced scenarios.
Period Modern
Scale Tactical. 30 minutes per Intermediate Turn, 3 minutes per Tactical Turn, 30 seconds per Engagement Turn. Variable ground scale, with typical settings being 1" or 2" per nautical mile. Designed for use with 1/2400 or 1/3000 scale ships, but optional rules allow for 1/1200 scale as well.
Basing Individual ships and aircraft

Boxed game includes:

  • 129-page Rulebook [in sheet form, punched for inclusion in a 3-ring binder]
  • 128-page Data Annexes book
  • 30-page Quickstart Rules Summary and Scenarios booklet
  • 70 die-cut ship counters
  • 140 die-cut plane and missile counters
  • two 10-sided dice
  • two 6-sided dice

The inclusion of counters allows one to play immediately, without miniatures.

Designers Larry Bond (LLBOND@AOL.COM)
Chris Carlson (
Publisher Fourth edition published 1996 by Clash of Arms
Note There is a popular computer wargame, also called Harpoon, based on this game system.

What You Think

Hal Smith (

Harpoon4 is much improved from 3rd edition.

First of all the turn/time scale has been changed. There are now 3 time scales, 30-min intermediate turns, 3-min tactical turns, and the 30-sec tactical turn. As well as changing some of the submarine depth ranges (e.g., several levels of intermediate depth).

The sensor rules have greatly changed. All vessels now have their radar signature explicitly stated in the data sheet. Radars now automatically detect in the 30-min turns, with less chance to detect in the smaller time scales. The sonar rules are much improved, with all vessels given a noise rating.

The combat rules are vastly changed from earlier editions. All weapons are rated for up to 4 generations of increasing technological sophistication (i.e., a Harpoon is a 3rd generation weapon). The weapon's generation is compared to the target's jamming and deception ratings, along with target signature, giving the chance to hit. SAMs now use the same to-hit method as air-to-air missiles. The air defense guns are pretty much unchanged except for the 3-second rule - if an incoming SSM/ASM is shot dowm w/in 3 sec of impact, the target will still take damage as from an air-burst. Which makes shooting down a Russian P-800 Granit SSM 1,000 yds from the side, kind of a moot point.

The data tables are up to their usual high standards, but look for a lot of new names. All of the former Soviet stuff has their real names (SSMs, ASMs, Radars, Sonars, the whole ball of wax).

So all in all, it is a vast improvement over the previous editions, and I heartily recommend picking up a copy.

If you would like to add your opinion to this webpage, use the following form or send email to the editor.

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The Naval SITREP

magazine cover

The Naval SITREP is the official Harpoon newsletter, edited by Larry Bond.

Online Resources

The Official Harpoon WebPage
Maintained by the designers. Includes official errata as a downloadable rich-text-format (RTF) file.
Publisher's Website
Game summary and list of supplements.
Information About Third Edition
Our webpages about the former edition.
Naval Magazine Article Index
Comprehensive index of magazine articles, covering all issues of Naval Sitrep and Naval Wargaming Review.
The Convergence Zone
"The Convergence Zone" (or just "CZ" for short) is an electronic mailing list for the discussion of the Harpoon naval wargame series (mostly the computer versions) and related topics. Quoting the official subscription instructions:

Send a note to LISTSERV@LISTSERV.UCOP.EDU with the following in the body:

SUB CZ-L Joe User

Put your own name in place of Joe User, of course, and follow the instuctions that it sends you. You will probably not want to attach a signature when sending any commands(including the subscription message), as you will get a bunch of error messages from the server.

AOL Forum
There is a Harpoon forum in the Strategy Games area, under the topic of "Miniatures." Go to Keyword: Strategy, select the Strategy Messaging box, select the Board Games and Miniatures forum, then scroll down to the Harpoon 4 topic. The designers actively support this forum.

If you know of other resources for this game, please let us know by sending email to the editor. If you have material you would like to make available to the Net, also let us know.

Last Updates
22 October 1998linked to publisher's website
30 July 1998added webring (won't work until approved by ring manager)
10 November 1997added Harpoon Naval Review '97
3 September 1997removed bad email for Chris Carlson
19 June 1997fourth edition update
Comments or corrections?